Wales politics

Cuts hit participation in arts, says Welsh assembly report

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Media captionAssembly members want an action plan that will increase participation in the arts

Not enough people in Wales are getting involved in the arts, according to a new report.

A committee of assembly members, which held an inquiry, blames a cut in budgets affecting arts groups and councils.

It said they are relying on volunteers rather than professionals to carry out work and is worried about the impact in rural areas.

The Welsh government said it will study the report and respond in due course.

The Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee found that with a "substantial decrease in funding", councils and arts organisations had been unable to maintain both the number and breadth of projects of previous years.

It said the Welsh government had made some headway towards increasing accessibility of arts initiatives, but said it was not the same as increasing people's participation.

It also raises concerns about the lack of opportunities in rural communities.

Among its recommendations, it calls on the Welsh government to draw up an action plan to increase participation.

Committee chair Ann Jones, AM for the Vale of Clwyd, said: "We believe the Welsh government can, and should, do more to ensure that people from rural communities are not at a disadvantage in terms of being able to participate in cultural endeavours."

The committee also called on the Arts Council for Wales (ACW) to provide more support to organisations to find other sources of funding.

Cardiff-based Hijinx Theatre lost 40% of its ACW funding following a review and has had cut back on its touring but is still working with community and adults with learning difficulties.

Val Hill, executive director told BBC Wales "It's very hard to access money at the moment.

"One of the things we said in our evidence to the inquiry was that tiny companies don't have the staff capacity to check on trusts and foundations, which change regularly their criteria for the year and their priorities. It would be useful for the ACW to broker relationships."

An ACW spokesperson said the report contains a "welcome emphasis on the importance of the widest possible audience enjoying and taking part in the arts".

"It also recognises the challenges that public bodies face, including the Arts Council of Wales, when the pressure on public funding increases."

She said independent research completed during 2012 shows that adult participation in arts activity in Wales has increased "considerably" in 2012, standing at 40% of the population, compared to 27% in 2011.

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